By Francis Ewherido
I have known this couple for over 20 years. They are a loving couple. The man is simple, easy going and quiet. The wife is an extravert and more forward. On the surface, the woman seems to be in charge. She says what should be done and what should not be done.
But I will not hasten to say that she is the “man” of the house because uwevwirohwofabeno (it is very difficult to understand the inner workings of another person’s house). To buttress my point, I know another man. He is taciturn.
The wife is the face of the marriage and does all the public talking and representations. I found out later that she is just the spokesperson. The husband is the principal through and through and only what he sanctions is done or said. You remember how General Sani Abacha pulled the strings behind the scene?
Some people call our subject of today’s discussion a “woman wrapper” (a man controlled by his wife). I do not know if it is true and it has never been an issue of concern to me. We were at a function recently and as I looked at them, I was filled with admiration. They have been married for over 40 years. At all the occasions I have met them, they wore suit-and-suit (clothes made with the same fabric).
Only couples, who are highly united, do that. I know for certain that they love each other dearly. E get why I talk so. As I looked at them at the ceremony, I started re-evaluating the whole institution of marriage. What do couples really need (not want) in marriage?
If you ask me, I will say happiness and peace of mind. If you agree with me, like Rome, there are a number of roads to achieving peace and happiness in marriage, so each couple should travel on the legitimate road that suits them. If it suits some men to achieve peace and happiness in marriage by being “woman wrapper,” so be it.
If it suits them to do dishes at home and even wash their wives clothes, including pants, leave them alone. Na their hands dem use; dem no borrow your own. Once their actions are voluntary, done out of love and not coercion, no problem. Is a happy and peaceful marriage, achieved by being a “woman wrapper,” not better than many of these Armageddons that we call marriages?
I no gree, I no go gree don make many clothes (marriages) tear anyhow. Some spouses are now in their graves, some are scarred forever and many marriages have packed up.
To the best of my knowledge, the wife of our subject has never been rude to him. She adores him. In fact, when she talks about the husband, no be here o! I just feel that the man has found the magic for a happy and successful marriage and traducers do not seem to understand.
Many people are held prisoners by their primordial cultural beliefs and see certain show of love by husbands to their wives as weakness or being a “woman wrapper.” Marriage is relationship management and our man has found a way to manage his wife and vice versa.
That is what all married people need to learn. One of the women calling him “woman wrapper” is divorced, to put it mildly. Talebearers said the husband ran away! Why the husband run?
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Young married people need to get close to and study happy marriages of older people. Those marriages were built on successful management of spousal differences, patience, tolerance and perseverance, etc. We are all imperfect human beings, each full of good, nonsense and bullsh*t. it is a whole package.
Do not bother going into marriage if you cannot take nonsense and bullsh*t. Hopefully, during courtship, potential couples will take enough time to understand their potential spouses to know the kind of nonsense and bullsh*t awaiting them in marriage. This is very important because the portrait of our different characters means there are some bullsh*t that we can take and others that we cannot take.
As a famous author said, choose which hill you can die on. For instance, some spouses cannot tolerant infidelity, but in some cultures, couples (male and female) do not only cheat, they are also into prostitution with the full knowledge and consent of the other spouse.
Also, there are people, who cannot stand liars and will never marry one, but you also see people, who lie with impunity and they are people’s husbands/wives. In one sentence, know the core values of your potential spouse. It helps to determine which hills you are prepared to die on.
But there is no way to know all the bullsh*t you will take in marriage. How is a man to know that his unusually obedient wife of 15 years will become very rebellious in her 40s? I have forgotten what psychologists call the trend. Also, you have been married to a loving wife for 25 years. All of a sudden, she begins to have mood swings, irritability, depression and unnecessary anxiety because of menopause; how were you to anticipate that?
How do you anticipate the frustration of an erstwhile warhorse of a husband, who finds out suddenly in midlife that he cannot muster an erection to carry out his conjugal duties anymore?
These are some of the bridges some couples have crossed to achieve happy and peaceful marriages. Building a happy marriage is a whole lot of hard work. Contribution by couples to the success of a marriage is scarcely equal, but the most important thing is that both spouses are bringing something into the marriage to make it work.
About 40 years ago, when marriage was the last thing on my mind, my brother, Ufuoma, told me a very interesting conversation he overheard between two married adult males. They said, to Ufuoma’s hearing, that in marriage, husband and wife must quarrel. If they do not quarrel, it means either the man is cheating (putting in less than) the wife or vice versa. We laughed about it immediately and occasionally thereafter.
I have since come to realise that what the men called cheating is just a higher commitment by one party to make the marriage work. Happy marriage na dog play. In some, one dog will fall once for every five times the one falls. For others, it is 10 to one. There might also be cases of 1/1. Who is bringing in more is not really the business of outsiders, as long as the couple is fine with it.
Trouble starts when external parties get involved. A lady once narrated how her mother-in-law, who was visiting, almost had a fit, flew into a rage and almost rocked her marriage because the husband was cooking while she was home. For the husband it was love, but for his mother, her son has been bewitched by that (name of tribe withheld) girl. Nothing was the same in the marriage for a long time after this incident.
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